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A computed tomography (CT) angiogram can help the specialists at Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, better understand the structure of your child’s heart and the surrounding vessels. Aside from an X-ray, the CT angiogram is the most commonly used procedure for evaluating the inside of a child’s chest.
A CT scan uses a low level of radiation. The radiologists at Norton Children’s are trained and experienced in operating the sophisticated equipment so that it uses the least amount of radiation necessary.
The test is fast and painless. It produces multiple cross-section images of the inside of the body. We use CT angiograms to capture very detailed pictures of the heart and blood vessels in children, even babies.
The CT machine looks like a large doughnut. Your child will lie on a table that moves through the hole in the “doughnut.” Your children will need to hold still for a short time during the test. Because of this, young children may need to be sedated (asleep). If your child needs sedation, a specialist in pediatric anesthesia will provide this service.
A child’s CT angiogram requires that we use a substance called contrast material that helps the pictures show up better. Your child may receive the contrast material intravenously (through an IV). The contrast material contains iodine, so if you know your child has an iodine allergy, tell your doctor before you schedule the test.
Allergic reactions to the contrast material are rare and almost always minor, such as mild itching or hives. Norton Children’s radiologists are prepared to swiftly take care of allergic reactions. If your child becomes lightheaded or has trouble breathing during the test, tell the technologist or nurse right away.
It’s normal for your child to feel a warm sensation when the contrast material is injected and a metallic taste in the mouth for a few minutes.
Norton Children’s uses CT angiograms on children only when they are essential for making a diagnosis. We will avoid repeating CT scans unless absolutely necessary to limit radiation exposure to your child.